Exploring the Pacific Arctic Seasonal Ice Zone With Saildrone USVs
More high-quality, in situ observations of essential marine variables are needed over the seasonal ice zone to better understand Arctic (or Antarctic) weather, climate, and ecosystems. To better assess the potential for arrays of uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs) to provide such observations, five wind-driven and solar-powered saildrones were sailed into the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas following the 2019 seasonal retreat of sea ice. They were equipped to observe the surface oceanic and atmospheric variables required to estimate air-sea fluxes of heat, momentum and carbon dioxide. Some of these variables were made available to weather forecast centers in real time. Our objective here is to analyze the effectiveness of existing remote ice navigation products and highlight the challenges and opportunities for improving remote ice navigation strategies with USVs. We examine the sources of navigational sea-ice distribution information based on post-mission tabulation of the sea-ice conditions encountered by the vehicles. The satellite-based ice-concentration analyses consulted during the mission exhibited large disagreements when the sea ice was retreating fastest (e.g., the 10% concentration contours differed between analyses by up to ∼175 km). Attempts to use saildrone observations to detect the ice edge revealed that in situ temperature and salinity measurements varied sufficiently in ice bands and open water that it is difficult to use these variables alone as a reliable ice-edge indicator. Devising robust strategies for remote ice zone navigation may depend on developing the capability to recognize sea ice and initiate navigational maneuvers with cameras and processing capability onboard the vehicles.
Andrew M. Chiodi, Chidong Zhang, Edward D. Cokelet, Qiong Yang, Calvin W. Mordy, Chelle L. Gentemann, Jessica N. Cross, Noah Lawrence-Slavas, Christian Meinig, Michael Steele, Don E. Harrison, Phyllis J. Stabeno, Heather M. Tabisola, Dongxiao Zhang, Eugene F. Burger, Kevin M. O’Brien and Muyin Wang
Featured NOAA Technologies
A UAV-based active AirCore system for measurements of greenhouse gases
We developed and field-tested an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-based active AirCore for atmospheric mole fraction measurements of CO2, CH4, and CO. The system applies an alternative way of using the AirCore technique invented by NOAA. As opposed to the conventional concept of passively sampling air using the atmospheric pressure gradient during descent, the active AirCore collects atmospheric air samples using a pump to pull the air through the tube during flight, which opens up the possibility to spatially sample atmospheric air. The active AirCore system used for this study weighs ∼ 1.1 kg. It consists of a ∼ 50 m long stainless-steel tube, a small stainless-steel tube filled with magnesium perchlorate, a KNF micropump, and a 45 µm orifice working together to form a critical flow of dried atmospheric air through the active AirCore. A cavity ring-down spectrometer (CRDS) was used to analyze the air samples on site not more than 7 min after landing for mole fraction measurements of CO2, CH4, and CO. We flew the active AirCore system on a UAV near the atmospheric measurement station at Lutjewad, located in the northwest of the city of Groningen in the Netherlands. Five consecutive flights took place over a 5 h period on the same morning, from sunrise until noon. We validated the measurements of CO2 and CH4 from the active AirCore against those from the Lutjewad station at 60 m. The results show a good agreement between the measurements from the active AirCore and the atmospheric station (N = 146; R2CO2: 0.97 and R2CH4: 0.94; and mean differences: ΔCO2: 0.18 ppm and ΔCH4: 5.13 ppb). The vertical and horizontal resolution (for CH4) at typical UAV speeds of 1.5 and 2.5 m s−1 were determined to be ±24.7 to 29.3 and ±41.2 to 48.9 m, respectively, depending on the storage time. The collapse of the nocturnal boundary layer and the buildup of the mixed layer were clearly observed with three consecutive vertical profile measurements in the early morning hours. Besides this, we furthermore detected a CH4 hotspot in the coastal wetlands from a horizontal flight north to the dike, which demonstrates the potential of this new active AirCore method to measure at locations where other techniques have no practical access.
Andersen, T., Scheeren, B., Peters, W., and Chen, H.: A UAV-based active AirCore system for measurements of greenhouse gases, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 11, 2683–2699, https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-11-2683-2018, 2018.
AirCore: An Innovative Atmospheric Sampling System
Karion, A., Sweeney, C., Tans, P., & Newberger, T. (2010). AirCore: An Innovative Atmospheric Sampling System, Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology, 27(11), 1839-1853. Retrieved Nov 9, 2021, from https://journals.ametsoc.org/view/journals/atot/27/11/2010jtecha1448_1.x
AirCore-HR: a high-resolution column sampling to enhance the vertical description of CH4 and CO2
Membrive, O., Crevoisier, C., Sweeney, C., Danis, F., Hertzog, A., Engel, A., Bönisch, H., and Picon, L.: AirCore-HR: a high-resolution column sampling to enhance the vertical description of CH4 and CO2, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 10, 2163–2181, https://doi.org/10.5194/amt-10-2163-2017, 2017.